When Robert Fulghum wrote that all he ever needed to know he learned in kindergarten, he wasn’t kidding. I had a similar experience in kindergarten just by watching my grandson and his peers sings songs at their graduation.
The other day I attended the 5-year old graduation and listened to them
say their valedictorian speeches – sing the songs and perform for the parents and grandparents with such clarity of speech, twinkles in their eyes and motions of their hands. I realized for myself that these kids know everything they have to know already. Today.
They learned it already and they don’t have to learn it anymore. From here on in, it’s just review and repetition.
Robert Fulghum’s list of material learned in kindergarten included sharing, being fair, cleaning up your own mess, being nice and even flushing the toilet. Lots of things. You can check them out here. They all have to do with behaviors, rather than attitudes or values. Behaviors are important because the more we do them, the more practice we get at being good at them. And the more someone who we respect praises us for doing the behavior (kids love mitzvah notes!), the more we want to do it more.
I wonder: After kindergarten, is there is anything more to learn about how to act properly, with manners and politeness? Or is it just trial, error, repetition, review, feedback, practice and refinement of the basic lessons?
Beyond behaviors, there are attitudes and values. Attitudes and values are important because they are the pillars that hold up what we believe to be important in life, and they motivate us to do the things we do.
My grandson and his buddies sang so many songs (they were each very short!) that my heart was singing and dancing. I couldn’t stop kvelling (pretty typical for me but ok).
Songs about values such as honesty, visiting the sick, being nice to guests, knowing that even bad things are all for the best, loving others, and appreciating what others do for us.
These children have learned things in kindergarten and learned it well. I saw it in their eyes. I felt it in their smiles. And I watched it in their hands that moved in unison.
On that day, in that classroom, at that graduation, those 22 kids dressed as little sailors sang songs about values and beliefs that they will hopefully be mindful of every day of their lives.
Here they are sitting together and watching a slide show of the various activities they did this year representing the values they learned.
And now? Where do they go from here? We hope and pray they take these values and self esteem they have had this year and go forward from strength to strength.
And to that blessing this grandmother says “Amen!”